15 years, 10 leaders: New East Precinct commander a familiar face — UPDATE: 11

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. Paul McDonagh is back in command of the East Precinct. A major shuffle of Seattle Police Department brass is set to be announced with the former commander resuming the post he held for two and a half years into 2009 — the longest tenure of any of the ten different commanders the precinct has seen since 1999.

The Seattle Times was first to report the shuffle which follows Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s overhaul of her command staff earlier this month.

McDonagh replaces Capt. Pierre Davis who took over in early 2014 after his predecessor Capt. Mike Edwards was move out practically mid-CHS interview. If McDonagh takes a page from Edwards and Davis, he’ll likely promise to look into more foot patrols and increase community presence for his officers.

McDonagh’s two and a half years leading the officers patrolling Capitol Hill, the Central District, Madison Valley and Madison Park, Montlake, and parts of First Hill and Eastlake were the most stable period in the precinct’s previous decade. In 2009 as Capt. Jim Dermody took over, CHS reported on the revolving door in the precinct since then-Capt. John Diaz left the command post in 1999:

I interviewed each of the East Precinct commanders around the time each took the reins. They had appropriately positive things to say about their new job, which, if memory serves, in each case represented a promotion and their first posting as a newly-minted captain. But after several such conversations I asked how long a new commander expected to stay on the Hill. Here’s Mike Meehan’s reply from 2004:

“I say this laughingly, but I told my boss that my intention is to stay here until the day I retire. I’ll stay here as long as they allow me to stay. I am very happy to be at the East Precinct.”

Meehan stayed until mid-2005.

A more than 30-year SPD veteran, McDonagh most recently served as O’Toole’s inherited assistant chief of special operations. His most immediate issue in East will be a response to a call from local businesses asking for increased patrols to quell street crime in Pike/Pine and to address ongoing gun violence in the Central District. Yes, he’ll also have Joe Buckets to handle.

Capt. Davis leaves the precinct after just more than a year of leadership. The end of his tenure is clouded by a still-open Office of Professional Accountability investigation into Officer Cynthia Whitlach’s July 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike of William Wingate, a black, 70-year-old veteran walking with a golf club. SPD says the officer was disciplined in the incident with counseling, a course of action that must be formally approved by the chain of command including Capt. Davis who is also black. “The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution,” a SPD statement on the investigation stated. “I have directed East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis to prepare a comprehensive report,” a statement from O’Toole read, “to include his assessment of the officer’s performance and any supervisory measures that were taken to address her actions in these incidents.” We do not know if the report has been completed. Capt. Davis is set to return to the Southwest Precinct.

The flurry of changes are likely to make this Thursday’s meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council a more interesting affair than average whether as a goodbye for Capt. Davis or a welcome back for Capt. McDonagh. Hopefully the transition goes as smoothly for McDonagh as his memorable summer 2009 arrest of a Harvard Market bank robbery suspect in which the man made an easy to spot target covered in dye and trailing smoke behind him as he fled the crime scene.

UPDATE: We forgot one — Capt. Ron Wilson lead the precinct in 2013 before quietly retiring.

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill food+drink | Gnocchi Bar ready to stick at 12th and Pine

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Lisa Nakamura is ready to make a food and drink venture succeed at 12th and Pine and she’s going to work to make it happen. The prolific restauranteur was already pondering changes before her new Gnocchi Bar served its first dish of fluffy little dumplings on Capitol Hill.

“We’ll see what people want,” Nakamura said as she scooped CHS a dish of the gelato from D’Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale, the space’s previous tenant that will continue to have a presence — and treat-filled display case — inside Gnocchi Bar. Full disclosure: CHS accepted the gelato as a gift — and to help Nakamura train a new employee. We just want to help.

Nakamura opened the doors officially to her new restaurant Monday night after a weekend rewarding crowdfunding investors, friends, and family. She was also, doubtlessly, tinkering with what she is planning as a seasonal rotation of dishes featuring the hearty dumplings.

Continue reading

Ethiopian restaurateur organizes East African business association from 12th to MLK


Tsedalu (left), Messeret Habeti, and Messeret Ferede (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Messeret Habeti, co-owner of the Ethiopian restaurant Assimba at MLK and Cherry, wants to build an east African business association bringing together restaurants, shops, and more from 12th Ave to MLK. After a 2013 e coli scare made “Ethiopian” synonymous with “unsafe” in the ears of some, she told CHS, business slumped. By banding together, Habeti hopes to emulate the success of immigrant businesses in the International District.

“That’s why I want to create the… business association,” she said. “If we have association, no one will be interrogated” or bullied by government or media. She said she has talked to dozens of local businesses, and hopes have a formal association established by June. “I’ve been just walking around with all the information, explaining [to local business owners] why we need this, why now,” she said. “I have explain that this is the time that we need to be gathering together.”

“If you are formally associated,” said her husband and business partner Messeret Ferede, “we have one voice. That is the plan, to benefit for ourself by being together all at the same time.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | 12th Ave lion dance

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

In 2010, Chungee’s said hello to its new neighborhood with a lion dance to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. Five years later, the 12th at Denny venue has been joined by a small community of Chinese restaurants on the Hill including the new Zhu Dang on E Olive Way and Regent at 14th and Pine. The Goat will also bring a new Chinese spot to the Hill as Poppy owner Jerry Traunfeld opens Lionhead next door on Broadway. Chungee’s and its new friends are hopefully enjoying brisk business as diners celebrate the new Year of the Goat. On Sunday, owners Wen Long and Tom Farrell welcomed back the lion dancers and again filled 12th Ave with gongs and exploding firecrackers. Happy New Year. Continue reading

New Capitol Hill parks: One overdue for construction, one waiting for bid, one in search of grants

(Images: Jeanny Rhee)

(Images: Jeanny Rhee)

By Jeanny Rhee — UW News Lab/Special to CHS

This time last year, CHS posted updates on various small park projects around Capitol Hill, including Broadway Hill Park, 12th Avenue Square Park, and Cayton Corner Park. Here are our spring 2014 updates on Broadway Hill and 12th Ave Square and here is what we had to say about the naming of Cayton Corner.

Some of these small park projects have taken years to get off the ground, which can be baffling to neighbors who watch plots go unused season after season. The sluggish pace of development often comes down to lack of funding. Some cities, including Seattle, have cultivated corporate sponsorships to boost programming and construction times with mixed results.

Thankfully, funding is now complete or near compete for these three projects underway on Capitol Hill:

IMG_0756Broadway Hill Park — 500 Federal Ave E — Target: End of 2015
Thanks to a $750,000 city grant in 2014, bids are out to construct the Broadway Hill Park at Federal and E Republican. Work is expected to start this summer. “We are still looking at the end of the year to finish the project and will have better dates once a contractor is on board,” said project coordinator Toby Ressler.

The park is expected to cost $767,500. The remaining $17,500 from the Neighborhood Matching Fund Small and Simple grant will pay for for the schematic design, which will include community gardening, artwork and open spaces. Continue reading

Gnocchi Bar finds a Capitol Hill food+drink home, gently used

Nakamura (Image: Gnocchi Bar)

Nakamura (Image: Gnocchi Bar)

1780969_602676619854323_1137015374871159130_oA Capitol Hill space that has run the food and drink gamut starting with a quickly shuttered investor-backed barstaurant start-up will take on new life soon with a project that has been seeking a home since early last year.

Lisa Nakamura will open her Gnocchi Bar in the Packard Building at 12th and Pine, the chef announced Monday. Highly anticipated by the city’s foodie crowd, Nakamura has been searching for a berth for her project celebrating the hearty pasta.  Continue reading

Tiny Outer Planet opens with Hill-brewed beers… until the taps run dry

It's the 12th Ave water (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

It’s the 12th Ave water (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Martins, left, and Stoccardo

Martins, left, and Stoccardo

The first new beer brewery to open on Capitol Hill since these guys started playing with yeast and hops on E Pike will debut its creations to the public for the first time Friday.

“I just hope we’re busy but don’t run out of beer,” Outer Planet Craft Brewing co-founder Renato Martins told CHS Thursday afternoon as he and brewmaster James Stoccardo prepared for their first days of business inside the tiny brewery and tasting room on the ground floor of a new 12th Ave building filled with tiny apartments.

The self-proclaimed “nano brewery” inside a microhousing development serves only its 12th Ave-brewed beers.

“We’ll only serve something we’re proud of,” Martins said. That pride means your early experiences with Outer Planet will be limited to Thursdays through Saturdays for the time being. Hours will be 4:30 PM until the brewers are ready to shut down for the night or the taps run dry. Continue reading

As 12th Ave justice center moves forward, juvenile court judge calls for racial reform

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Justice isn’t color-blind, at least in King County.

According to a special report published last month, black youth in KC are roughly six times more likely than white youth to face a judge in juvenile court. And while the number of youth referred to juvenile court has been falling for years, the bulk of that benefit has gone to whites.

Speaking on behalf of the more than fifty judges on her bench, she says, Judge Susan Craighead is calling for a series of “listening sessions” with key players in the juvenile justice system. This includes representatives of government institutions which are “upstream” of the court—police, schools, and child welfare services — but also the families and communities most impacted by juvenile courts.

“We feel like we need all hands on deck to try to figure out what more can we do with this problem,” Craighead told CHS. Continue reading

It’s not easy being a Capitol Hill cop

It’s been a rough few weeks for the reputation of Seattle Police. Many would say officers have brought it upon themselves. Some have. But here’s a report from an incident earlier this year that provides a small story about just how hard the job is — and the benefit of having experienced officers on patrol in large enough numbers to get the job done.

The callout comes late on a Sunday night in January to a reported disturbance just a block from the East Precinct. The officer arrives to find a situation he has seen before.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.30.46 PM Nothing dramatic occurs, but in the report, you’ll read details of an officer who comes into regular contact with the people who live on the streets around you — many of them time and time again.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.30.56 PM

According to the officer, the man at the center of the disturbance had a simple request:Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.31.06 PM

The officer talked to the man, diffused the situation, and got back to work.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.28.42 PM

Like we said, nothing dramatic. Just an East Precinct cop who knows his beat dealing with the day to day — or night to night — on Capitol Hill.

‘Never park’ on Capitol Hill again? Zirx on-demand valet service expands to Pike/Pine

IMG_4376Now that we have mostly displaced poor people from Capitol Hill (you just be quiet Jon Grant), it’s time to start reaping our service rewards. You’ll never have to park on Capitol Hill again — or, at least, on parts of it. Zirx has arrived.

Quietly, the “on-demand,” roaming valet service has rolled up the Hill to expand its Seattle service area beyond its South Lake Union test.

Here’s what Geekwire had to say about it:

Here’s how it works. You designate a pick-up location on Zirx’s app, and 5-to-7 minutes later, an agent shows up at your car. He or she will drive your car to a secure parking facility that the company has partnered with. When you want your car again, you select a location and an agent will bring your vehicle there.

Zirx pays parking garage operators to rent space it needs to store vehicles. In case of an accident, Zirx has a $1 million insurance policy for the vehicle itself, and a $1 million policy for the agent, who is also screened for driving records and background checks.

“Never park again,” Zirx promises. The cost? $15 for the day.

The start-up hasn’t announced the expanded service and hasn’t yet responded to our request for more information. We found out about the new area of service when we were talking with the folks from the Cafe Juanita pop-up staying on 12th Ave for the next six months. You can save on your Zirx pick-up, apparently, with code: “juanita”

Zirx says it tries but doesn’t promise a response to calls via its mobile app within five minutes. You can now expect to get stuck behind the “I’m waiting for Zirx” guy in addition to the epic line of taxi cabs in front of Rhein Haus on 12th Ave.

Despite improvements in availability thanks to expanded pay parking areas and hours, many consider parking on Capitol Hill on a Friday or Saturday night its own kind of special hell. $15 to hand it over to a Zirx valet and be done with it will probably feel like a bargain. And hey, all you wealthy party people who enjoy alcohol, for another $15, you can leave your car overnight.

You can learn more at zirx.com.